Addicted to Soba - Recipe: Soba Soup

5:08 PM Kari R. 3 Comments

Yes, the Mexican girl from San Jose is addicted to Japanese food. I know I’ve written about these weird, grey-looking noodles before, but bear with me.

Perhaps it’s just a phase I’m going through, but lately I’ve been craving soba noodles, white rice, seaweed and raw fish.

AND, I just can’t get enough of these lovely buckwheat wonders. After receiving my new Bon Appetit, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw there was a whole section on buckwheat!

As I was flipping through the pages, I noticed an udon soup recipe (perfect for this horrible crap weather we are having) in which you could swap out the udon for soba noodles.

Well, I made my list and ventured to the local Japanese grocery store. This trip in itself was an adventure. I don’t like to brag…but, I could probably win Supermarket Sweep since I can find ingredients quickly and, if I had to, be in-and-out in minutes. But, the language barrier proved to be an obstacle. Kombu? Tamari Soy Sauce? Sambal oelek? Luckily, the supermarket employees were very helpful and everything had translations, so you knew what you were getting yourself into.

The produce at Mitsuwa Marketplace was fresh. And, I loved how there was a sushi section in the back where pre-thinly-sliced ginger was sold!

Once I got back to the house the chopping and cooking began. I’m not going to lie, this soup took me hours (and I used up lots of pots and pans).

The broth was great – I actually cut down on the ginger since this can be very overbearing. And, the dried mushrooms gave a unique texture and taste to the dish. The only thing that was missing was a punch of spice! I omitted Sambal oelek since I don’t usually care for the stuff in Japanese restaurants, but looking back I should have added a little bit since it would have given the soup that extra flavor.

Here’s the recipe (with my suggestions in purple).

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit’s February issue.

Udon with Mushroom Broth, Cabbage, and Yams


10 cups Light Vegetable Broth (see recipe) or good-quality canned vegetable broth (such as Swanson) - don't skimp here, I got some organic veggie broth that made the base of the soup wonderful
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
3/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger - as I mentioned, I don't really care for ginger, I probably only used a 1/4 cup and got plenty of flavor from it
2 lemongrass stalks, outer dark layers removed, all but bottom 4 inches cut off and discarded
2 6-inch strips dried kombu - kombu can be very expensive (like $30 bucks a pack), instead I bought some Sushi Nori - basically the stuff that sushi rollers use for your sushi
2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar


2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes)
5 ounces snow peas, trimmed
4 cups 1/2-inch-wide crosswise slices cored Napa cabbage
5 ounces slender carrots (preferably assorted colors), peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal
10 ounces Japanese-style udon noodles or soba noodles
1 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger - I omitted this....reasons above
4 to 6 ounces semi-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
Sambal oelek
Tamari soy sauce
Soba or Udon noodles
Optional additions: water chesnuts and baby corn

Preparation for the broth:

Bring broth and 3 cups water to simmer in large pot over medium heat. Add cilantro, mushrooms, sliced ginger, and lemongrass. Cover; simmer until mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes. Rinse kombu/nori; add to broth. Simmer 1 minute. Using tongs, remove kombu/nori and mushrooms; discard kombu/nori. Transfer mushrooms to work surface; cut off stems and discard. Cut each mushroom into 3 to 4 strips. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into another large pot; discard solids in strainer. Add tamari and rice vinegar to broth. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill mushrooms. Cool, cover, and chill broth.

Garnish prep:

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook yams until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Using skimmer, transfer to medium bowl. Cook snow peas, cabbage, and carrots separately until crisp-tender (snow peas , 30 seconds; cabbage, 1 1/2 minutes; carrots, 2 minutes). Using skimmer, transfer vegetables to separate bowls. Reserve cooking liquid. DO AHEAD Vegetables can be cooked 2 hours ahead. Let vegetables and liquid stand at room temperature.
I think this was a useless step that quite frankly took too long. Yams should definitley be cooked in a pot seperately. But, you can get away with lightly stir-frying all the veggies in a pan/wok. At that time, you could also add in the water chesnuts and baby corn.

Bring cooking liquid to boil. Sprinkle with salt. Add noodles; cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring often. Drain; rinse.

Meanwhile, bring vegetable broth to simmer. Add green onions and optional ginger strips. Season with salt and pepper.

Using tongs, divide noodles among bowls. Divide mushrooms, yams, snow peas, cabbage, and carrots among bowls, each in separate mound. Divide tofu, if using, among bowls. Ladle broth over and serve.


  1. I love soba noodles and udon soup!! That looks delish Kari. ;)

  2. hey FoodieByte,

    are you up for a food challenge? let's pick a challenging recipe to independently try and compare notes. what do you think?

  3. Hi Sudden Craving - Of course! What shall we make? Maybe something that's in season?